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We largely agree. I think you've misunderstood some of my comments. It will take me a few days to get a reply completed. Thanks for getting this started!

Hi, Kellin and Dave -

Okay, this topic is something I know very little about -- but I do have a thought to add.

In 2002, I lost my well-paying job, couldn't find a job (any job) because my market disappeared and I was too "over qualified" for entry level positions in any other field. McDonald's wouldn't even interview me. I spiraled down into financial ruin.

Fortunately, I have awesome family and friends who helped me out . . and, I am smart, hard working, resourceful and determined, so I was able to reinvent myself professionally and am slowly rebuilding financially. Along the way, I learned many valuable life lessons that are benefiting my life today.

But, I must say -- the experience really rattled my sense of who I am. It took me to very low places from which I wasn't sure I was going to come back. Most days I wanted to die. Most days I didn't want to get out of bed – and showing up for jobs I hated was almost too hard to do. I really didn't want to participate in life, at any level.

So, if I struggled so hard to keep moving forward despite all the advantages I had (and the reasons for hope I had), how in the hell is someone who basically has no advantages supposed to have enough hope to show up for a job or fill out paperwork? It seems to me that many of them might be attempting to commit a sort of suicide by apathy -- which doesn't sound like such a bad option when one is that low.

Just a thought.

- Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

P.S. I wasn't able to jump through all the hoops required to comment on Dave's site.

Hi Marie,

I'm sorry to hear you had such a horrible experience. I'm afraid that experience is going to be shared by many more Americans in the future if our economy doesn't recover quickly. Losing everything you have worked so hard for can be totally devastating, not just financially, but physically, emotionally and mentally.

You have made an excellent point. Someone who has functioned fairly well their entire life can have a very hard time adjusting to such devastating losses and suicide may sometimes seem like an option. I think in individuals and families who have never functioned at that high level the repeated failures they experience is just as devastating, causing them to give up and lose all form of self-respect and hope. That's why I think it so important to focus on the humanity of homelessness rather than just tossing them in affordable housing. People need mental health treatment provided to them along with financial and housing assistance. We are not just numbers.

Thank you for your very insightful feedback. I'm happy you had family and friends who were there for you. I admire the strength and courage with which you overcame the situation. If you are now finding your back out of the trees, I'm sure it is because of the strength and courage with which you faced the situation and overcame it. Kudos to you and those who were there for you. I only wish we had more resources available so that your journey needn't have been so difficult.

After moving where I am and finally having my papers in order, I applied for Food Stamps, it took over a month to do so, then I got 'em for a month, and then they cut me off. That's it, I refuse to jump through all those hoops again, they can take a long walk off of a short pier as far as I am concerned. But, it gets worse, you see, I am coming along nicely on my path to become an EMT, and a friend, well, acquaintance, from back when I was in business, heard I'd like a larger motorcycle (I putt around on a 250 right now) and he gave me one - a 1000cc monster that I don't want to wrestle with. So, it's up for sale and when it sells, that will pay back the loan for EMT school. If I re-applied for Food Stamps, they'd demand I sell that bike and have burned through the money first, they micro-manage one's life, scanning carefully for any signs of hard work or initiative and flat out good luck, and act to neutralize these things.

I'll do squeegee work at the truck stop or collect cans or something before I'll get involved with those bureaucrats!

Actually, the money from the monster-bike will not only pay back my "handshake" loan of $1000 for the EMT class I'm signed up for, but pay for doing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy so I'll have a fresh start. $1500 is a life-changing amount of money for me.

I live CHEAP. We have a good garden here, I love foraging, a person can eat like a king for $50 a month if you know what you're doing. No one normal would live in this old trailer, but after putting a new roof on it, fixing the electric and plumbing, and some things, it's not bad. The landowner here has gotten a watchman, friend, chore-doer, farmhand, driver for those trips to/from the airport, and so on, not quite for free but very very close to it.

I make something on the order of $5k a year or less, have to add up the figures for 09. I guess I am part of that underculture, or underclass, in that I avoid the social-aid industry, and frankly, I won't work unless it's interesting to me. EMT and later, paramedic work, that will be interesting. But being a greeter at wal-mart all day, Meh. So, I arrange my life so I don't need much money, and what money I need, can be made doing something I believe in or like or both.

I plan to have a good ol' time learning to play the ukulele well enough for me and those listening to me to have a good time, I can make something like $5 an hour playing at various places around here and used wisely, that money will be fine. In 6 months I'll be an EMT, and as soon as a year after that, a medic. And I'll still have the ol' "uke" as a nice hobby. That's what I call a well-run, well-balanced life!

And this seems to be the linchpin of all of this discussion, the really feral, chronic homeless, never had a regular life. Thinking ahead never paid for them because things were too chaotic. Homework and chores and putting your dirty clothes in the hamper, regular mealtimes, all that stuff, never happened. This is why places that really help the homeless really ought to be like the Army, in the Army they kind of run your life for you, and a lot of people need this. It can be a very good thing.

Hi Alex,

I really appreciate your input. You said,

the really feral, chronic homeless, never had a regular life. Thinking ahead never paid for them because things were too chaotic. Homework and chores and putting your dirty clothes in the hamper, regular mealtimes, all that stuff, never happened.

Exactly! This is what I see over and over with the families I work with. They were raised in very chaotic, nomadic lifestyles as children. This is a norm for them.

I also like your idea of the army form of social services. Im no big fan of the military, but their discipline and predictability can be a godsend for someone trying to escape such a chaotic existence.

Thank you again for the feedback.



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